Five Days in New Orleans (pt 1)

It seems like I say this with every post – but I honestly cannot believe that it has been months since I last published something. There are so many places I’ve explored in the last few months, that I hope to share with you all soon – including my time in Kansas City and back home in NYC.

Today, though, I’m excited to share my adventures in New Orleans over Spring Break, which are fresh in my mind. My week in the Big Easy felt like a dream. First – there was sunshine, which has become a rarity in Cleveland. Secondly, there was warmth. Thirdly, the food was amazing, and the people were generous and kind. While the streets of NoLa are famous for allowing open containers of alcohol, there is so much more to the city than just hurricanes and fishbowls. (But if that’s your thing – go for it!)

Since this post turned out to be so long, I’ve decided to split it up into multiple posts. This is part 1, chronicling what we did for Day 1-2. I’ve attached a little chart below that shows an overview of our whole trip! 🙂

NoLaItineraryFinal

Day 1
We landed in MSY airport at 10:30AM on a Monday, and got to our hotel at 11:30AM. We stayed at the Marriott at New Orleans. We were able to check in our bags with the concierge while they were finalizing our rooms. The hotel is in downtown NoLa, and 10 minutes away from French Quarter. My only complaint is that free WiFi in the rooms would have been nice. (It’s 2018! C’mon now, Marriott!).

For lunch, we went to Bon Ton Café for some authentic Cajun food. For dinner, we made a reservation at MayPop, a hip Asian-American-Cajun-Creole fusion restaurant. The food at both restaurants were delicious and worth every penny!

We did some light shopping at Canal Place and explored the French Quarter at night. While we were in the area, we couldn’t help stopping by the famous Café du Monde for some late-night beignets and café au lait. (Pro-tip: I’d recommend going at night to beat the lines. The café is 24 hours. We snagged a table for 5 in about 10 minutes at around 9:30PM.)

After filling our tummies with beignets, we decided to walk around Jackson Square and the surrounding French Quarter. We didn’t stay out too late, since we had been travelling since 6AM (EST) and were in need of some beauty sleep!

Day 2
Our objective for the trip was to blend both vacation and exploration. We typically woke up around 8-9AM, which I thought was a reasonable yet productive time for break.

We stumbled upon Palace Café for an early lunch. Just like all the other meals we’d had in New Orleans so far, it was delicious and were inspired to come back for a second time the next day.

After lunch, we spent our noon at the Audubon Aquarium. We purchased the Audubon Experience pass ($45), which gets you into the aquarium, zoo, and insectarium within 30-days of purchase. You even get to watch a documentary at the Entergy Giant Screen Theater the same day you visit the aquarium.

My favorites were the white alligator, the sea otters, and the Amazon Rainforest exhibit.

After the aquarium, we took a siesta at the hotel before heading back out to French Quarter. We had an afternoon snack at Café Beignet on Bourbon Street in Musical Legends Park. The beignets were too dense and a little bit undercooked, so it wasn’t my favorite. I did enjoy the café au lait and the live jazz band playing.

For dinner, we went to Luke. I’m still salivating over the magnificent stuffed p&j oysters! I think that is hands down my favorite dish of my NoLa stay, other than the beignets of course.

After dinner, we checked out the night life on Bourbon street and any quirky gift shops. Since we lived so close to FQ, we decided that we’d try to explore some part of it every night after dinner.

I’ve got so much more from my NoLa adventures that I can’t wait to share with you all! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little sneak peak of my five days in the Big Easy, and hope to see you back here soon. 🙂

Fin.

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Oh, the places I’ll go?

As a second-semester junior, I am expected to have the next part of my life charted out. Some of my peers have the rest of their lives planned: where they want to go to graduate school, and to study what, and in which area they envision themselves settling down.

I can’t say the same. Up until three months ago, I didn’t even know if I wanted to go to medical school. I have no immediate plans to take the MCAT, still have two remaining pre-med classes to take, and have no dream medical school.

I knew I wanted to take a gap year after graduating, but I didn’t know to do what or to go where.

Trying to map my future feels like trying to complete a 9×9 Sudoku puzzle with only 3 clues. The possibilities are endless, and anything can be an answer.

Most of the time, I am pretty good at taking life one step at a time. But some days, I am overwhelmed by the thoughts of the future – immediate and distant. These last three weeks have been especially difficult.

As the semester begins to wrap up, I am confronted with a mountain of schoolwork and exams, as well as extracurricular commitments that have built up. This is the immediate hurdle I must overcome.

At the same time, this is no regular semester – it is my third to last semester as an undergraduate. At the conclusion of next semester, some of my peers will know where they will be spending their next four years as a graduate student. In the semester after that, we will be graduating college, and heading off to another bigger, and hopefully better, chapter of our lives.

Much of the planning, then, takes place this semester. Much of this planning, though, feels like grasping for air – much time wasted, but very little gained, if at all.

Fortunately, I am now at a much better place than I was three months ago.

In the upcoming year, I will be working to attain a Master’s degree in Bioethics. In my near future, I see a career as an ethicist, which lines up neatly with the bulk of the research I have been doing in the last three years.

And hopefully, one day not too far away, I will attend medical school and ultimately become a neurosurgeon or neurologist.

As the dust settles, I am starting to see a path.

I am reminded of a Chinese idiom, “车到山前必有路,船到桥头自然直。” The literal translation is, “When the train gets to the mountain, there will be a way; when the boat gets to the pier-head, it will go straight with the current.”

Things are finally starting to fall into place. I am beginning to have a direction in life, and can rest easy that I have an ultimate goal I’d like to achieve.

But very little of this was planned. I ended up in Cleveland for college because all of my other plans fell through. I joined a sorority on a hunch. I applied for the Bioethics program on a whim.

Still, the old Chinese idiom was right – when you get to the mountain, there will be a path.

For some people, this path is planned. But for me, it is forged, one step at a time.

Fin.

Writer’s Note:
Some translators equate the Chinese idiom with the English saying, “We’ll cross the bridge when we get to it.” I personally think that these two sayings convey slightly different messages.